The Secret Life of Pets & The Importance of Friendship

I laughed more while watching “The Secret Life of Pets” than any animated movie of recent history. I saw the film today with my twins. But it has a plot that is worth considering.

There’s no major philosophical scheme to the film, like Inside Out that I reviewed last year. But the theme of the movie (no spoiler alert) is really friendship: how it can grow in the least expected places and how it can redefine one’s life. It’s a topic we Christians spend too little time contemplating, in my humble opinion.

Max and Duke are the star characters, two dogs who come together against their will. Having recently moved I’m still feeling the growing pains of moving away from some folks I deeply enjoy spending time with. Our whole family is from me, to April, to our kids. Friendship is one of the things that makes life worth living.

The Proverbs tell us that “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” I love my brother and consider him one of my best friends (even though we don’t get to hang out nearly as much as we would like) so this verse feels a little less applicable, but I fully understand the point. Faithful friends are necessary for a successful life.

C.S. Lewis beautifully described friendship this way in his book The Four Loves:

“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.” 

I will point out one unfortunate element in the film. There is a crazy rabbit who jokes about killing humans as an act of vengeance for being a rejected pet. The humor is ill placed for several reasons. I talked to my boys about the inappropriate nature of even joking about bringing harm to others. You might plan on having a short discussion with your children about this topic if you plan to bring them to the movie.

And talk to them about the importance of true friendship. Few things will define their lives more than with whom they build lasting relationships. As King Solomon said, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).